The Satsang Group
The followers of the Nandinatha Sampradaya’s master course are spread out over the UK. This means that we rarely see each other. Over the last few years there have been email discussions about the possibility of meeting, nothing actually happened until Ramai, a master-course student, arranged a group Satstang. She says that the event organised itself, but she was certainly the catalyst that made it happen.
One of the founders of the UK Venkateswara temple in Birmingham, Dr Rao is very respectful of the Nandinatha Sampradaya, and allowed us to use temple buildings on the Venkateswara temle site for our Satsang. This was the ideal location, as people from the North of England, South of England and Wales can all reach Birmingham and return in a day. Continue reading
The Family is important in Hinduism
There are times when the direct line of progress might not be the best approach, and a seeming back step is necessary to move forward. I wrote previously about how the shakahara vrata (vow of vegetarianism) was harder for my wife than for me, because avoiding eggs prevents her from using many of her recipes. A lot of her vegetarian recipes use meat substitutes such as Quorn which contains egg white. As time went on this continued to be very difficult for her, and the impact was making her feel negatively towards Hinduism. I delayed doing anything about this for quite a while, but when I realised that it was a continuing issue I contacted the Himalayan Academy monks. I told them that I was considering asking Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami to release me from the Shakahara Vrata, and allow me to take a lesser vrata which allowed eggs as an ingredient in meals cooked by my wife. I would still avoid eggs whenever possible and the flesh of all creatures. I said that I would understand if that meant that I would have to stop the stage two master course on being released from the original vow.
Last week I completed the Chinmaya International Foundation’s “Foundation Level” e-vedanta course. The course consists of 12 monthly lessons. At the end of each month there is a set of questions, and these are sent to the acharya at CIF for marking. The course is quite challenging, as in addition to the lessons a sādhana, or discipline is recommended. At a cost of $100 for a whole year of study it is excellent value – at the time I registered this was £50.
The course was very informative, describing the basics of Hindu Vedantic philosophy. It has enabled me to understand many terms and discussions and the discipline of regular spiritual practice has helped me advance spiritually. The only minor criticism of the course material is that sanskrit words are not shown in IAST or an equivalent, or in Devanāgarī. This means that I don’t know how to pronounce some of the terms I learned, and it led to me being confused by thinking that mālā (prayer beads) and mala (impurity) were two meanings of the same word!
Though I would recommend the course as an introduction to Hinduism and Vedanta, I will not be taking the advanced course. There are several reasons for this. Continue reading